Feature photos courtesy of Casey Hendrickson Photography
Congratulations, newlywed! You’ve just about made it through your first year of marriage. If you’re anything like the rest of us, it went something like this: you jettisoned off to an incredible honeymoon in the tropics; came back slightly sunburned, mosquito-bitten, and a bit disorganized; reveled in being completely spoiled while unboxing gifts; anxiously awaited your professional photos; made it through some post wedding blues or newlywed oh-no-no’s; got the thank you notes signed, sealed, and delivered; and finally settled into the swing of married things.
Then it happened: You struck up a convo with a stranger in response to a compliment on your oh-so-gorgeous rock (presumably framed with a pave diamond halo like the rest of us) and mentioned that you just got married. And just as quickly as the words tumbled out of your mouth, you realized it’s already been several months since the big day! So how exactly will you commemorate and celebrate?
We’ve put together several fabulous ideas – many of which are tailored to recent newlyweds and current wedding trends! Some do require a bit of wedding day forethought, so brides-to-be and grooms-elect may read along with interest as well.
1 WAIT TO WATCH YOUR VIDEO. As cinematographer Andrey Solodyankin of Andrey Solo Films explained, one of his couples, Brad and Cheryl, actually waited to watch their video until their first anniversary of marriage! In fact, they made a romantic night of it – dinner, popcorn, everything.
While it can be a bit difficult to wait so long to hear what his clients think about his work, Andrey applauds the sentimental approach. During the interview portion of the video, some even choose to include a special message to each other, something for their spouse to hear exactly one year later.
“I actually encourage to make a night out of it too. You know, spice it up, get some drinks etc. Because it’s not just any other film. It’s their love story. True love story. All my couples that watch it always say it’s like they are renewing their vows every time, even at hard times.”
Vlad and Anna, for example, sent this tongue-in-cheek update plus a few personal photos of their festivities to Andrey. The groom sent the following: Day 5: we are still watching our wedding film. It is short, but it is long. All the details we discover something new every time. Our family are anticipating for the weekend, can’t wait for them to join us and watch with us for the first time, etc.
2 GO BEYOND THE PHOTO ALBUM AND INSTAGRAM. Chances are that you didn’t share every single photo online, and so there may be a few that you’ve all but forgotten about. Go back through all of those photo files – even those that didn’t make the cut for Facebook or Instagram or the print album – like the adorable photo of you both laughing hysterically that didn’t happen to show your off your “best side.” That photo will mean the world to you now!
3 GET GUSSIED-UP. Finally get that rehearsal dinner dress dry-cleaned or find the perfect little number that does your beloved wedding heels justice. Go full glitz with that bridal jewelry. Or even plan ahead to have your hair and/or makeup artist to recreate your wedding day look.
Of course, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If your husband owns his tux, that’ll do. If not, pick up a crisp shirt to be worn with those special cuff-links or bow-tie.
4 EACH CHOOSE A COLOGNE OR PERFUME FOR THE WEDDING DAY. Scent is arguably one of the most powerful yet under-rated senses. It has a unique capability to take us back to any moment in time. Choosing a fragrance only to be worn on the day-of and on special anniversaries thereafter (dating, engagement, wedding, child’s birthday, etc.) can serve as a subtle and special reminder throughout the day. Of course, you’ll have to replace the bottle every few years (as fragrances have a tendency to turn or lose notes with time), so consider one that’s popular enough to come in a roller-ball and classic enough to be available for years to come.
5 (RE)VISIT THE VENUE. As a surprise, reserve those same wedding night accommodations – bonus points if you do it far enough in advance to score the same room or bridal suite.
Picked a public park or botanical garden? Plan a new tradition – an annual picnic!
6 GIVE BACK. In honor of your spouse or marriage, you may even choose to give back in some way that involves the venue or an aspect of your wedding. Make a donation by purchasing a brick or park bench with your new family name. Present a card with tickets to a charity gala at the location. If it’s a historic location or museum, donate to become a member of their institute or society. If you booked a string quartet, become a sponsor of local music programming to foster that same talent in youngsters.
Choose to give your time. Plant a tree or donate your time towards a beautification project in your spouse’s honor. Adopt a highway or stretch of road that runs past the property.
7 FACE THE MUSIC. Serenade your lover. This one can be as simple or complex as you’d like to make it.
If you’re musically inclined, learn to play your first dance song on your instrument of choice. Online, you can source sheet music PDF’s for a range of instruments – from flutes to ukuleles.
If not, hire someone. Whether it’s booking an acapella group to crash your fancy meal out or finding a college kid with a guitar to wait on the steps outside that restaurant lobby Uptown, make it memorable.
Or, want to close with some nightlife? Visit a dueling piano bar such as Howl at the Moon at the Epicentre or Elaine’s at the Omni Grove Park Inn. You can request virtually any song – including your first dance song or last call tune (especially with a tip jar contribution).
8 CONSIDER THE CAKE. It seems simple enough: freeze the top tier of your wedding cake and eat it on your anniversary. Sure it’s sentimental, but it’s also a bit disgusting.
Go beyond that frost-bitten fondant. More and more, cakeries are touting exotic flavors. Pick a unique flavor combination for your cake and frosting (we chose limoncello cake and strawberry “ice cream” icing), so that you’ll have something oh-so-special for your baker to remake.
Ask your cake designer to redo a tier – dragées and all. Or request a miniature rendition of your entire cake to scale.
9 AND THE CONFECTIONS. Keep a list of all of the candies at your candy buffet or dessert bar. Create a basket filled with them all to give to your beloved in the morning – kind of like your own personal Valentine’s Day or Easter!
10 HAVE HER BOUQUET REMADE. Instead of just a flower arrangement, have her entire bouquet – down to the same color satin ribbon – remade. Just bring wedding photos to your wedding florist (or a local flower shop). When she holds it, taking in that unique floral combination’s scent and sight, she’ll be transported back to your wedding day.
11 CREATE A WEDDING TIME CAPSULE SHORTLY AFTER MATRIMONY. Put together one bin with your most important wedding day memorabilia. Revisit it every anniversary.
Some items to consider include:
• The same unwashed handkerchief you used to dry your tears
• Your non-toss garter
• Bow-tie, pocket square, and cuff links
• USB drive with photos
• Wedding night or honeymoon room key
• Dried flowers from the arrangements: Simply hang stems upside down or press a few in-between pages of heavy text or coffee table books. Store in a small cardboard box with a cellophane viewing lid.
• A playlist of the must-haves provided to the DJ
• One of each paperie: save the date, invitation, program, and menu
• Photo-booth photos
• A special bottle of wine (same varietal as the reception) or the cork from the champagne
• A card with the recipe for your signature drink
• A list of all of the candies + flavors from your candy buffet
• Your headpiece
• The box your engagement ring came in
• The guestbook
• A favor given to guests, such as a fan or organza bag
• Your vows
• Wedding cards from guests
12 KEEP THE CELEBRATIONS GOING INTO THE NEXT DAY WITH A HONEYMOON INSPIRED STAYCATION. Feelin’ those fajitas and margaritas in Cabo? Make a reservation at 1900 Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar in Elizabeth and scroll through your beach photos. Vow to make it back ASAP.
Miss the jerk chicken from Jamaica? Order via Favor or Foodie Call from Anntonys Caribbean Café on E 7th and then rock out to reggae on Pandora by your community or hotel pool (but we never mentioned doing anything currently only legal in Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon).
Fancy those cigars from Cuba and fried plantains? Head on over to Tinder Box at SouthPark Mall for a treat almost as good as the real deal. Then drive to A Piece of Havana for the festive fare and salsa dance lessons.
13 WEAR YOUR WEDDING NIGHT LINGERIE – GARTER, SHOES, AND ALL. Sit down with that boudoir album, a bottle of the same bubbly, and your toasting flutes. This can potentially be combined with numbers 3, 4, 5, & 7.
14 SUBMIT YOUR WEDDING PHOTOS, LOVE STORY, AND ADVICE TO BE FEATURED ON @BRIDESOFCHARLOTTE ON INSTAGRAM. Submit your photos and take a trip down memory lane while answer questions pertaining to your wedding and love story. Surprise your spouse – or answer the questions together. With Brides of Charlotte’s quick two-day turn-around, this one can be done on pretty short notice!
Brides of Charlotte is a story-telling account on Instagram. Simply submit HERE to join our community of brides, grooms, newlyweds, and lifelong sweethearts. What makes this project wonderful is that it is so inclusive and community-based. You don’t have to have a six figure wedding that took place within the last year to have a wonderful love story or great advice. You can be 70 years old and have tied the knot in a little white dress at the courthouse. Or maybe you’re a mom thrice over who’s learned a thing or two about the importance of date nights. What you’ve got to offer is valuable and noteworthy. And hey, your wedding ought to be featured too! Style is style – old or new, borrowed or blue.
15 REREAD YOUR VOWS. Whether personalized or a chosen selection, recite your vows to one another. Bonus points if you can read these by candle light by way of your unity candle. Consider carefully choosing one new promise or goal each year in a list of “amendments” as a way to commit to strengthening your marriage and evolving as a couple. Along with your vows, these amendments could be passed down for generations as your best advice.
16 READ YOUR LETTERS UPON WAKING. If you wrote letters to one another to read before the ceremony (maybe during a first look or on either side of a door), now is a great time to revisit them. It may seem like so long ago that you wrote them – pouring your heart out about your entire relationship, your love for your partner, and your excitement to get married. Begin your anniversary with such a treasure.
ANDREY SOLO FILMS:
CASEY HENDRICKSON PHOTOGRAPHY: